MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, has announced that former Reader’s Digest Association CEO Mary Berner will become its new president and CEO, just in time for the leading magazine trade association's annual conference in October. She will succeed outgoing CEO Nina Link, who in June announced plans to resign after 13 years.
A hard-charging and colorful executive known for her team-building stunts, Berner was publisher of TV Guide and Glamour before becoming president and CEO of Fairchild Publications in 1999.
In 2007, when the RDA went private, Berner was brought in as president and CEO to reinvigorate the massive but tired company, but her plans were stunted by the nationwide economic collapse that followed. In 2009, RDA filed a prearranged bankruptcy plan from which it emerged the following year. Berner led the company through a reorganization, oversaw the expansion of hot property AllRecipes.com and launched several new titles, including Reverse Diabetes, Walk It Off and No Fail Weight Loss. At the same time, she reduced the rate base of flagship publication Reader’s Digest, once the biggest-selling consumer magazine in the U.S.
While at RDA, Berner also became known for her sometimes controversial team-building activities, from having executives dress as elves during the holidays to leading bug-eating contests.
In 2011, Berner was pushed out by the RDA's four controlling hedge funds and replaced by CFO Tom Williams, who himself has since been replaced. Since then, she has spent time traveling, sitting on several boards and advising venture startup company Jana Mobile.
“I always love a challenge, and the magazine industry is facing a time of unprecedented challenge,” Berner wrote in an email to friends and colleagues announcing her newest appointment. “…I've also been vocal about the fact that I think the industry has to move faster, and more effectively, and with a stronger voice. So when the Board of the MPA, The Association of Magazine Media, asked me to take on the challenge of leading the charge for the industry during this pivotal time, I couldn't say no.”
The search for a new MPA CEO, led by executive recruiting company Blinkhorn L.L.C., began late last spring after Link said that she would be stepping down from her position. Berner will take over Sept. 17, at which time Link will begin serving as an advisor for the MPA through the end of the year.